Trent Ryan is the new man charged with fostering multicultural and Indigenous Queenslanders to become involved with Australian football.
Ryan was appointed AFLQ’s first Engagement Manager on April 1, with his focus to embrace and develop programs in Indigenous and multicultural communities.
The multicultural program has been boosted by a $50,000 State Government Grant as part of the Department of Sport and Recreation’s Active Inclusion program.
“We are still in the very early planning stages but we are particularly excited about our early achievements in relation to multicultural engagement”, Ryan said. “We have several different priority areas within the program but the ultimate goal is to assist and encourage young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to access Australian Football.”
A number of Auskick centres have been set up, cross-cultural competency training courses are being instigated, and a coaching and accreditation course at Griffith University has attracted 60 international students to whom English is a second language.
Furthermore, the Auskickers will take centre stage at the Gabba on 21 May and Metricon Stadium on 25 June at halftime as part of the AFL’s multicultural celebrations.
“We believe football is a fantastic way for people to integrate and our aim is to use AFL as a vehicle to strengthen community integration. We aim to do this through providing culturally and linguistically diverse participants with the necessary skills to become involved and be embraced by community AFL clubs,” Ryan said.
Ryan was involved in early talks when the multicultural grant was secured and had no hesitation in applying for the new position.
“I came to develop a passion for it – I saw the importance of the program to the game and the value of the community outcomes that we can achieve,” he said.
He was well-credentialled for the role, having been heavily involved in community engagement in his role as a club development officer with AFL Queensland.
Ryan is equally excited about the spreading the game through the Indigenous community, particularly in the southern parts of the State.
“We have administered our Indigenous programs exceptionally well across Cape York through the great work of Rick Hanlon. But we have struggled to get the same outcomes through mainstream programs in south-east Queensland, and some other parts areas south of there,” Ryan said.
“Our short term agenda is to increase participation withinin Indigenous communities in south-east Queensland.”
An important part of that process is the appointment of Indigenous programs coordinator Jesse Green to work closely with Ryan.
And an Indigenous trainee will also be sought next month to work out of the AFL Capricornia office.
“We need to better engage communities and the two new staff members will certainly help with that,” Ryan said. “We have not had the resources in the past.”
It is not just participation that Ryan is concerned with.
“One of my priorities is to ensure that AFLQ as an organisation is more reflective of the community and we will look to further increase our number of Indigenous employees,” he said.
Ryan added that the AFL already had a strong selling point to Indigenous communities with the large number of Indigenous players involved and starring on the national stage across the 16 AFL clubs.